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Ovia Health Blog

How much sleep do you really need?

June 21, 2019

How much sleep do you need? “At least 8 hours” has been the old standby in our cultural consciousness for some time. But this isn’t quite the right answer - in fact, it’s not necessarily quite the right question, either. Each person’s sleep needs will change throughout their life span, so age is a really important factor here - recommendations can range from 14 to 17 hours for newborns and 7 to 8 for adults 65 and older. You also have to take into account what sort of sleep you’re getting - is it uninterrupted or very restless, for example - as well as how much sleep seems to be just right for helping you feel your best during the daylight hours. All of that being said, we do have details that can help you best figure out what number might make sense for you.

That well-worn 8-hour recommendation isn’t too far off. Experts recommend between 7 and 9 hours of sleep each night for adults between the ages of 26 and 64. A little more or a little less sleep may be appropriate for certain people. As many as 10 hours or as few as 6 hours may be healthy, but more or less than this isn’t recommended. For younger adults, aged 18 to 25, the core recommendations are the same, though as many as 10 to 11 hours on the higher end may be appropriate for certain people. Sleep outside of this range isn’t really recommended and could mean that someone is experiencing a serious health problem. 

What this means is that the middle range of 7 to 9 hours is what experts agree is the amount they’re comfortable recommending. But really, you need to pay attention to your own body and how much sleep seems to work for you. What you should really pay attention to -  and there’s probably no major surprise here - is how much sleep you need to feel happy, productive, and like your very best self.  

For example, if you sleep for a solid 7 hours every night but still feel really groggy in the morning and not well-rested during the day, then maybe what’s right for you is a few more hours of shut-eye. Again, some people might need as many as 10 hours or as few as 6 hours to feel great. 

You’ll also want to try to pay attention to details like: Do you wake up feeling refreshed? Do you feel alert and not particularly sleepy during the day? Can you concentrate on everything you need to? Or are you often tired during the day? And do you notice that you’re not sleeping well at night? How often do you seem to be getting a good night’s sleep? Do you need a lot of coffee to make it through the day? 

As you pay attention to some of these details, it can be really helpful to track how much sleep you’re getting and how you’re feeling during the day. (And, hey, you can use Ovia for that!) If you do this for a few weeks, you can likely get a good sense of what your particular sweet spot for sleep is. 

Keep in mind that if you’re experiencing sleepiness during the day when you think you should be feeling alert, are feeling depressed, are having trouble breathing during sleep, are snoring during sleep, have tingling or cramping in your legs during sleep, have regularly disturbed sleep, have had a partner tell you that your sleep seems to be off in some way, have a lot of trouble falling asleep, often take lengthy naps (meaning longer than 20 to 30 minutes), or if there’s anything else that seems to be preventing you from sleeping well at night, you should talk with your healthcare provider to help you figure out if there might be an underlying problem that’s keeping you from getting the sleep you need. 

Sleep is immensely important for your health and overall well-being. Everyone deserves to spend their days feeling happy, alert, and ready to take on the world. That might take just 6 hours of sleep, it could take as many as 10, or you might find the number of hours that are right for you fit neatly within that 6 to 8 hour range. That Goldilocks-style “just right” number will be unique to you, so get to know what it is, and you should be feeling bright-eyed and bushy-tailed before long.



Sources

Max Hirshkowitz et al. “National Sleep Foundation’s sleep time duration recommendations: methodology and results summary.” Sleep Health. (1)1: 40-43. March 2015. Retrieved February 11 2019. https://www.sleephealthjournal.org/article/S2352-7218%2815%2900015-7/fulltext
Morton H. Shaevitz. “How Much Sleep Do You Really Need?” Psychology Today. Sussex Publishers, LLC, September 6 2016. Retrieved February 11 2019. https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/refire-don-t-retire/201609/how-much-sleep-do-you-really-need
“Brain Basics: Understanding Sleep.” National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services,  Fri, 2019-02-08 . Retrieved February 11 2019. https://www.ninds.nih.gov/Disorders/Patient-Caregiver-Education/Understanding-Sleep. 
“How Much Sleep Do I Need?” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. National Center for Chronic Disease Prevention and Health Promotion, Division of Population Health, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, March 2 2017. Retrieved February 11 2019. https://www.cdc.gov/sleep/about_sleep/how_much_sleep.html
“How Much Sleep Do We Really Need?” National Sleep Foundation. National Sleep Foundation. Retrieved February 11 2019. https://www.sleepfoundation.org/excessive-sleepiness/support/how-much-sleep-do-we-really-need